“The Mundies” is a bi-weekly column by Scott Rinear, awarding life and fantasy football. Now in its second year of publishing, this column presents an optimistic outlook on life and an analytical approach to the game. Read forward as Scott hands out advice on living life on life’s terms and his end-of-season fantasy football league winners and MVP awards.
2023 is here. With it came Week 17 of the NFL season – championship week for most fantasy football leagues.
The New Year’s holiday has never been a favorite of mine. I remember it being fun as a kid when staying up until midnight seemed like a different universe. I understand that it can be an opportunity to start fresh – an opportunity to set new goals or re-commit to existing ones.
And to the people for which that works, more power to you.
While I am not a shining example of commitment and goal-setting (especially with things like exercise or eating healthy), I want that “start fresh” mindset to be within arm’s reach all year long, not just when the calendar moves from December to January.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy spending time with friends and family in an atmosphere of celebration. And putting the current year in the rearview mirror in a symbolic way has been necessary and therapeutic as of late. However, the significance of Jan. 1 is for an entirely different reason. Jan. 1 is my only living grandmother’s birthday.
If you have been with me on this “Mundies” journey from the beginning, you may remember me awarding the first ever “Mundie Award” to my Grandma Chris. Here is that award from my first column for In-Between Media:
Excerpt from “The Mundies: Awarding Life & Fantasy Football,” published February 9, 2021.
THE VERY FIRST MUNDIE AWARD
The Very First Mundie Award goes to my Grandma Chris. My mother’s mother, who turned 103 years old last month on Jan. 1, and is and always has been an amazing woman! Nothing says Christmas to me more than her homemade Pecan Ball cookies, and this is well known in my family. Grandma Chris now lives in a senior living facility, but she passed the recipe on to my mom who now makes sure I still get a few Pecan Balls every year.
Now let’s go inside the numbers:
- Chris, Grandma
- Pandemics survived: Two
- World Wars alive during: Two
- Great Depressions experienced: Depends on your definition. She was alive during the big one that was in black in white.
- COVID-19 vaccines received (as of this writing): One
- Best moms in the world produced: One*
- Body Mass Index (BMI): beats me (index)
- Average Depth of Target (aDOT): Zero
- Yards After Catch (YAC): Zero
- Wins Above Replacement (WAR): 11 billion
*This number might seem low, but it’s actually the top score.
My very own Grandma Chris gets this very-first award because of what is listed above, because I am extremely biased and because I make the rules here.
End of excerpt.
I think about this first award often. Sure, the Mundie Awards are a somewhat silly concept, but it was an honor to include my grandma in this endeavor.
And here we are, two years later, and I just got home from celebrating Grandma Chris’s 105th birthday. Her birthdate is Jan. 1, 1918. I am her grandson and well aware of the significance of my grandma’s age, but it still blows me away to think about it.
This was the first birthday since before the COVID-19 pandemic that we were able to celebrate with her in-person. She lives in an assisted living facility, and we have spent her last few birthdays talking to her through her window.
We timed the celebration to join my parents, my sister’s family, my Aunt Kathy and my cousins’ families, packing into Grandma’s one-bedroom apartment. Four generations, from Grandma Chris on down to her great-grandchildren – all occupying the same space for about 90 minutes.
It was a special day, and we parted company the same way we always do. A hug, assurances we’ll visit again very soon, me saying “I love you, Grandma,” and her squeezing my hand (every time), saying “I love you, Scotty.”
It is not a huge revelation, and I am fine saying it. It is surprising my grandma is still alive at 105. There is always a part of me that wonders if this goodbye is the last one. That is what made the pandemic lockdown so difficult. We both went far too long without that hug and hand-squeeze. And, unfortunately, you just never know what is coming next in life and who you may end up never seeing again.
This is difficult for me to write about. I have not revealed this publicly; only a few people in this space know about a recent tragedy suffered by my family. Just before Thanksgiving, my Uncle Dave collapsed.
He and my Aunt Kathy (my mom’s sister) were at our family beach cabin when his heart stopped, and he just collapsed. This happened on a Sunday. Our beach house is on the Puget Sound at the bottom of a hill, so the first responder effort took longer than it normally would. He was resuscitated and rushed to the hospital. He was in intensive care for five days but never regained consciousness and passed away peacefully the following Friday with my aunt and his son and daughter by his side.
My Uncle Dave was the only uncle I was close with. During my childhood, we spent much of our summers at the family beach cabin with my Grandma Chris, Aunt Kathy, Uncle Dave and my two cousins, Katy and Geoff. Until recently, we spent all of the big holidays together.
I have been fortunate when it comes to loss. Other than my Grandpa John (Grandma Chris’s late husband), who passed away in the mid-1990s, we had not lost anyone in the family circle until my Uncle Dave. When my grandpa passed away, I was just getting started in high school. I remember it being very sad, but a 16-year-old’s processing of grief is much different than a 43-year-old’s.
It is still fresh. I know it will be difficult as we continue doing the beach house and holidays, and he’s not there.
We flew to Michigan and spent Christmas with my wife’s family, so I did not really experience Christmas without him yet. It did hit hard when we got back, and the girls opened their gifts from my Aunt Kathy. I glanced down at the little note on the gifts indicating who the gifts were from, and it only said, “Aunty Kathy.” The “and Uncle Dave” was not there.
Today at my grandma’s birthday celebration, I saw my aunt and cousins for the first time since it happened. We talked on the phone on Christmas Day, but today I could see them. There was a somber air wafting over the birthday celebration. My grandma has been known to say that she has the best two sons-in-law in the world (my dad and Uncle Dave).
I hesitated greatly about whether to write about my uncle. I chose not to back in November out of respect for my aunt and cousins. I am not looking for pity.
Honestly, I’m not sure what I am looking for.
But a running theme in this series has been conveying that it’s OK to not be OK, and it’s OK to talk about not being OK. Whether it’s grief, depression, anxiety, addiction, fear or a big potpourri of struggles, it helps to talk about it with other humans.
Not to solve the problem, Not to be 100 percent free of pain, But to hopefully provide some relief, extinguishing some of the power these things can hold over you when kept bottled up. I say this from a place of personal experience.
It is a new year. If you make resolutions, great. If you just carry on as if nothing has changed, great. I only suggest one thing; Reach out to your loved ones. Reach out to your friends and family.
Tell them what they mean to you. Tell them you love them. If you are cool with hugging, hug the people in your life when you see them in person, something I took for granted until the pandemic hit.
It is cliché, but you never know what the future holds.
I wish I could have said goodbye to my Uncle Dave, and it makes me feel a certain way that it can take losing someone to make me realize I need to make a more consistent effort with my loved ones.
But that’s life on life’s terms.
Regardless of how that makes me feel, I can’t change the past. I can only try to be better when it comes to expressing how I feel about those close to me and make a polite suggestion that you do the same.
And now, The Mundie Awards.
This column was written before the Monday Night Football game in Week 17.
THE FANTASY FOOTBALL LEAGUE WINNERS AWARD
For this edition, I will be awarding the “Mundie Awards” as sub-awards to multiple players. For most, the fantasy football season comes to a close in Week 17, so I want to focus on Most Valuable Player (MVP)-style players, both for the full fantasy season and the fantasy playoffs. All awards are based on Points Per Reception (PPR) Redraft formats.
Jerick McKinnon (RB, Kansas City Chiefs)
This one feels good because I brought up Jerick McKinnon as a player to add earlier in the season. McKinnon has been the PPR RB3 during the fantasy playoffs (Week 15-17). Since Week 12, McKinnon is the PPR RB4. The only RBs averaging more PPG since Week 12 are Austin Ekeler, Christian McCaffrey and Josh Jacobs. Not coincidentally, these players are also the top three RBs on the season.
McKinnon easily takes home the “League-Winner Award” after largely going undrafted at the start of the fantasy football season and likely joined the lucky teams who ended up with him via the waiver wire. The data is not available yet, but I am confident when the percentage of championship rosters with certain players becomes available, McKinnon will be on a high percentage of teams who took home trophies in Week 17, much like his teammate Travis Kelce.
THE FANTASY FOOTBALL MVP AWARD
Travis Kelce (TE, Kansas City Chiefs)
Simply based on positional advantage, Kelce is the 2022 fantasy football MVP. Kelce finished the fantasy season as the PPR TE1, averaging 19.2 points per games. According to FantasyData, the only non-QBs who finished with a higher PPG were:
The Vikings’ T.J. Hockenson (13.3 PPG) edged out Mark Andrews (12.7 PPG) for the PPR TE2 spot, finishing 5.9 points per game behind Kelce. That is easily the greatest points-per-game difference between the overall No. 1 and No. 2 spots of the fantasy skill positions. According to Average Draft Position (ADP) data from Sleeper, Kelce’s ADP in Redraft formats was 13.6, which is an early second-round pick in 12-team formats.
The only knock against Kelce is his disappointing PPR TE15 finish in Week 17. Still, he was a top-six TE in Weeks 15 and 16 and was likely on a high percentage of championship rosters.
Other players who were in the hunt for this award: See next award.
THE NON-TRAVIS KELCE FANTASY MVP AWARD
Josh Jacobs (RB, Los Vegas Raiders)
The MVP not named Travis Kelce is a difficult award to hand out in 2022. Multiple players were in the running for this coveted fake “Mundie Award,” but in the end, it has to go to Raiders’ RB Josh Jacobs. Jacobs finished the fantasy football season as the PPR RB3, leading the NFL in rushing with 1,608 yards to go along with 12 rushing TDs.
Jacobs caught 51 of 61 targets for 395 receiving yards, which seems like an uptick. The narrative for Jacobs often includes a lack of receiving work. However, he caught more passes (54) on more targets (64) in 2021, so his 2022 receiving output picked up where he left off, even with the switch to Josh McDaniels as head coach.
Jacobs played all 16 games and finished as a PPR RB1 in nine of the 16 games. He was one of only four RBs to finish as an RB1 in over 50 percent of their games played (the others being Ekeler, McCaffrey and Derrick Henry). Jacobs was at his best during the crucial second half of the fantasy season. Starting in Week 10, Jacobs finished as an RB1 in six of the final eight weeks.
Similar to Kelce, one of the only negatives for Jacobs was during the fantasy playoffs. Jacobs was somewhat disappointing in Week 15, finishing as the PPR RB20, and potentially knocked people out in the semi-finals as the RB39 in Week 16. But this is a season-long award, and the nail in the coffin was his draft price. According to Sleeper ADP data, Jacobs’ ADP was 48.8, RB21 off the board. Ekeler and McCaffrey had more RB1 weeks and better fantasy playoff performances, but they were both top-five overall picks in ADP.
Other players who were in the hunt for this award (data from FantasyData and FantasyPros):
Austin Ekeler (RB, Los Angeles Chargers)
• PPR RB1
• RB1 in 68.8 percent of games played
• Zero games outside the top 36
• PPR RB1 during the fantasy Playoffs, including top-scoring RB in championship week.
Christian McCaffrey (RB, San Francisco 49ers)
• PPR RB2
• RB1 in 68.8 percent of games played
• PPR RB2 during the fantasy playoffs
• Only two of 16 games outside the top 24
Justin Jefferson (WR, Minnesota Vikings)
• PPR WR1
• Led the NFL in targets, receptions and receiving yards
• PPR WR4 during the fantasy playoffs
Jalen Hurts (QB, Philadelphia Eagles)
• QB1 on a points-per-game basis
• Excellent value as QB7 off the board, according to Sleeper ADP data
• League-leading 6.7 TD-to-interception ratio
• Rushed for 747 yards and 13 rushing TDs (second-highest rushing TD total behind only Jamaal Williams)
• Third-highest accuracy rating (behind only Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray)
I want to end the 2022 fantasy football season on a positive note. Thus, I will not be doing the “Buffalo Branch Award” in this edition.
Thank you so much for reading my end-of-season fantasy football league winners and MVP awards. As I have moved toward more analytics-based fantasy football content, my goal is to provide that content in a manner that is as easy to digest as possible.
Advanced analytics are very useful, and I think can be explained simply and logically. Please feel free to reach out to me to explain more about the analytical concepts I present in these columns. My Direct Messages (DMs) are always open.